Introvert-extrovert relationships can be wonderful and satisfying, but they definitely require communication and compromise, which is one thing they have in common with, oh, every other kind of relationship in existence.
Here are some tips for keeping your introvert-extrovert relationship running smoothly:
1. Define your needs.
This means you have to be much more specific than "I feel like going out." "Well, I don't." Why do you want to go out? Are you craving fresh air? A change of scenery? Is there a specific event you want to attend or person you want to see? Why do you want to stay in? Are you physically tired? Engrossed in a task? Not up to dealing with crowds? When you establish exactly what you want out of going out or staying in, it's often possible to find an activity that suits both your needs. If your objective is to stay on your own turf and your partner's is to get to know her BFF's new boyfriend, maybe you can satisfy everyone by having the two of them over for beers and board games.
2. Define your boundaries.
We're complicated animals; it's rarely as simple as "I'm an introvert, I hate other people" or "I'm an extrovert, I hate being alone." There are probably specific circumstances that make crowds or solitude easier or harder for you to deal with. What are they? My partner particularly dislikes groups of people who all know each other and are unwelcoming to newcomers; a crowd where no one knows anyone or a small gathering of intimate friends is preferable. I don't like being alone with nothing to do, because then I just waste time on the Internet until I get a tension headache from staring at a screen, but planned downtime with a movie, a book, or a long walk is wonderful. Knowing what's a "maybe" and what's a "hard no" for your partner makes it easier to find middle ground.
3. Make quality time count.
One-on-one time together is crucial for any romance, but introverts and extroverts often have different ideas of what that should look like. What makes you feel connected to your partner? Snuggling up in front of a classic movie? Going on a long bike ride together? Hours of gymnastic, neighbor-annoying sex? Don't assume the answer is the same for everyone — you may be feeling like, "We never do anything together," while your partner thinks you're in paradise because there's nothing better than reading your separate books side-by-side every evening. Talk about what both of you need to make your time together feel like a valuable and refreshing break.
4. Be thoughtful about how you introduce your partner to friends.
If you're dating someone who values deep, intimate connections but is stressed out by short, casual interactions with lots of people, don't throw a huge party as a way of introducing your love to your work, grad school, college, and book club buddies in one fell swoop. Your introvert partner is not going to adore every single person in your life, so prioritize! Decide who your sweetheart really needs to get along with, and work to nurture the most important relationships. When we first started dating, I planned relaxing, low-pressure hangouts making dinner and watching movies with my beloved and my BFF, and they bonded in a way they never would have if I'd introduced them at a karaoke bar. (Caveat: If you plan one-on-one time with a different buddy every night of the week, it is neither relaxing nor low-key, and your introvert will not thank you for it.)
5. Develop new friendships together.
There's a good chance that if you're in an introvert-extrovert relationship, your extrovert brought along a broad network of friends and casual acquaintances, while your introvert came equipped with only a few very close friends. This leads to a fun spiral: extrovert wants to go out with friends, extrovert drags introvert along, introvert feels left out, introvert avoids social engagements, thus failing to become friends with extrovert's friend group and making future socialization less and less likely. If you can find an activity that lets you both meet new people at the same time (Book club? Karaoke? Ballroom dancing?), it can be easier to form a social circle in which you both feel comfortable — while still, of course, maintaining your friendships from before you got together. Actually, if you can manage it, I really recommend the tactic my partner and I tried, which was to move to a new state together after nine months of dating. We restarted our social lives on equal footing and now have several close friends we both love spending time with.
6. There is more than one way to compromise!
Sometimes compromise means we do something that's in between the things we both want to do, like getting together with a small group of friends instead of going to a huge party, or staying in and reading. Sometimes it means we do my thing tonight and your thing next weekend. Sometimes it means one person goes out and the other stays in. Nine out of 10 people will tell you that the secret to a good relationship is compromise (the 10th will mention vibrators), but bear in mind that it's equally important to define the kind of compromise that will work best in a given situation.
7. When you get your way, make sure to check in with your partner.
Communication isn't something you do once in a while; it should be ongoing. Abandoning your sweetie in a situation outside his or her comfort zone is never cool. I met my partner by striking up a conversation when her date left her alone and uncomfortable at a Halloween party full of people she didn't know. Pay attention to your introvert's needs, people, especially if your introvert is really, really attractive. If you don't, trust me, someone else out there will!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor changes have been implemented by Cosmo.ph editors.